The Dallas Morning News Keeps Promising More and Keeps Delivering More Boredom
Every week, managing editor Patrick Williams disappears into his office and reemerges a cranky, nicotine-addicted, third-person-referring superhero we like to call Buzz. This week, Buzz has a familiar villain in his sights.
Oh, man, Buzz is so depissed©. No, that's not a typo. It's our own neologism, a combination of "depressed" and "pissed" that describes the blend of sadness, anger and ennui that overwhelms a person confronted by triumphant, banal idiocy.
Some examples? Twitter is depissing. The HBO series Girls, and the fact that the creator of that horror, Lena Dunham, is more successful than we'll ever be, is depissing.
But what has Buzz particularly depissed right now is the Dallas Morning News.
For a good while, the paper has been teasing both of its remaining print readers with a series of self-promoting ads for its new expanded metro and national pages. The ads consisted of two empty pages with a few lines of type promising those pages would soon be filled with more news, news, news. They were sort of clever -- the first time. About the eighth or ninth, they were just irritating, as in: "God damn, Morning News, stop selling us blank pages and give us the news already 'cause it's, you know, freakin' news."
Still, for someone who loves newspapers, thinks they're vital and has never done anything besides newspapering, the ads were inspiring. Here's the Morning News striding the corpse-strewn landscape of journalism and declaring its commitment to endure and expand. Combined with the paper's other advertising drive, the one featuring ubiquitous billboards with pictures of bloodhounds, boasting about how the paper has MORE reporters sniffing out news than anyone else in town, they lifted Buzz's heart. Reporting and digging and writing still matter! Look out, Dallas, the hounds are on the hunt.
The big reveal came Monday. Those blank pages were filled. Let's take a look. Hmm, the Carrollton Christian Academy is hosting a "Coffee with the Saints" for prospective families; the DeSoto City Council and school board have scheduled a joint meeting; Mansfield is holding a "rally to celebrate public school successes." And so on: two pages of briefs that perfectly combine the banality and informational thinness of Twitter with the pulse-pounding flash of The Podunk Daily Bugle, circa 1957.
This .... this! ... is the brilliant scheme that the operators of a pretty decent daily newspaper have cooked up to stem the plague: They've unleashed the hounds, which have treed the metaphorical equivalent of a geriatric, asthmatic chipmunk.
By itself, that's just sad. What pushes it into depissing is knowing that the geniuses who came up with this scheme -- you can smell the committee meetings, bad coffee and PowerPoint presentations behind it -- are better compensated than the frontline reporters and editors churning this stuff out, as well as -- and this is the really depissing part -- Buzz.